Victoria Yards is Jo’burg’s most exciting new venture
Victoria Yards, once an eyesore for Johannesburg, is today one of the city’s most promising spaces
Just over a year ago, Victoria Yards was one of Jo’burg’s many forgotten spaces. Littered yards, roadways and dilapidated buildings stretched over its 30 000 square meters, all remnants of its past as a laundry-turnedchop shop. Today however, just east of the city’s CBD, the space now boasts a gallery, restaurant, art studios and event spaces; a welcome change for the suburb of Lorentzville. and far from being a sanctuary for the creative tastemakers of the city, the developers have created a space that includes the community in an authentic and considered way.
at its inception, developer Brian green envisioned an inner-city farm, but his idea of the urban rejuvenation project soon evolved and after only 14 months, the space already resembled a thriving community of creatives, artisans and farmers. Today, Victoria Yards is unrecognisable. dusty yards are now landscaped, empty roadways have been turned into edible greenery, a borehole pumps water for the businesses and gardens and the derelict buildings are now buzzing with life.
using the existing structures as a starting point, the buildings are a combination of old and new. exposed brick, plaster and even graffiti celebrate the buildings’ history, some dating as far back as the early 20th century, while modern finishes such as glass and steel add a contemporary sophistication.
special care was taken to effectively create an ecosystem on the property. animals have been introduced as natural solutions to common urban problems. The owlery keeps rodents in check, reducing the need to use poison, while fish help fertilise plants with their waste.
The other residents, however, have kept to the artistic side of things. ayanda Mabulu, roger Ballen and david Krynauw are a few of the creatives who have started working from Victoria Yards, and eventually, as more people set up studios and workshops, the hope is that creative exchange and bartering will become commonplace. Beyond the arts, Victoria Yards will also help train and educate people with valuable skills such as farming and metalwork. and with an amphitheatre and fresh produce market as some of the other features, Victoria Yards is set to become the heart of the community in no time at all.
While similar developments around the country have been accused of creating barriers and keeping the community that surrounds it at bay, this project invites the Lorentzville community, and the surrounding suburbs of Bertrams and Troyeville, to actively participate.
as one of the city’s most promising projects, it’s hard to imagine that just over a year ago it was in ruins, just a shell of its past. and while it’s only in its infancy, this reimagined space already demonstrates the potential of urban rejuvenation projects and what it can mean to the people that interact with it. victoriayards.co.za